Is skill or motivation more important?
July 1, 2009 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm a little short on skills but large on motivation. Should I start working on growing my community's web presence, or leave it to the pros?

I've been building and maintaining websites since the 90s, although I wouldn't call myself professional by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not a programmer, know only the basics of html, and usually use already-developed systems like Wordpress or SMF Boards to automagically create and maintain sites.

I'm very interested in developing websites dedicated to various aspects of my local community, to which I am very devoted. I have no interest in making money off of these websites, although I realize that such endeavors have the potential for income of some form or another. Should I go ahead and start developing these sites, getting them going to generate interest in the community, and then maybe hand them off to others who are more qualified to run them once they've gotten bigger than I'm capable of handling? Or should I just wait for the pros to start them themselves and stay out of the workflow altogether?
posted by scarykarrey to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can't you just keep using Wordpress, Blogger, TypePad, or Ning? They don't have to look like a blog, and if you buy a domain name you can use yours and not theirs.

My bro has a community site focused on a hot topic there, and it's really a Ning group with a domain name he bought. The thing has become a bit well-known in that community, gets referenced in local press, and people talk about his "work" and how he is so great to spend time "keeping up the site." There is no work.

I also have a Ning group. I did not buy a domain name, but I probably will. I put in code to use Google Analytics, which I am now addicted to!

A problem with Ning is that there's no way to distinguish new content, but that might not matter for you.

Also take a look at http://www.oswd.org/.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding.
posted by jgirl at 9:41 AM on July 1, 2009


Community sites thrive because of community. I know countless people who could whip up a passable clone of Ask Metafilter in an afternoon, but we stay here because of the people here. I'd encourage you to go forward in using these premade platforms. In the end, it's not about the nerdy bits.
posted by advicepig at 9:51 AM on July 1, 2009


Starting out small with this kind of thing is usually the best way to go because you don't know how the community is going to take shape and what you will need as it becomes more active. Beginning communities don't really need much.

You might as well start out now (using some software suggested above) and get the community going and then if it becomes more than you can handle that would be the time to pass it over to someone who can fine tune design and functionality based on need.
posted by Kimberly at 10:50 AM on July 1, 2009


I've run a number of web communities, for various niche topics. Get a website up yourself, using whatever means available, and then engage your community with it. You don't need to be a "professional".

If you get people who're passionate about your community involved, then once the site gets bigger you can begin bringing these folks in to help you (with moderation, tech help - surprising how many people can help with this - and if they're passionate then often they'll do it for free).

Forget about making money until you really need to expand to your own server, etc; focus on engaging people.
posted by mahke at 4:57 AM on July 2, 2009


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